(…when full-bore is the need)

We’ve said it many times before…there’s no other place on earth worth one drop of American blood, or, one American soldier’s life…least of all anywhere in the Middle East, and especially in…Iraq.

Yet, here we are again, after more than a decade of persisting with our errors, and holding on to our ignorance about the realities involved with Iraq. Those past errors are what led to the rise of ISIS, and our ignorance about the realities involved with Iraq are now pushing us to return to it by going in half-app…when full-bore is the need…to clean up the mess we left behind when we withdrew.

The President has approved sending in another increment of 450 more American “trainers” into harm’s way in Iraq (and no matter how one might spin it… they will be in harm’s way), to beef up and stiffen its military capacity to fight the ISIs forces there. Apparently, the ten years we spent “training” them before was either ineffective…or else they must be extremely slow learners.

Neither is the case. The reason most Iraqi forces have not stood up to ISIS is because they really don’t have anything to fight…for…unlike the Kurds, who have consistently shown that they not only do have something to fight for, but are more than able and willing to do so…given the means to increase their demonstrated abilities to defend themselves against ISIS.

We’ve seen in other times and places how poor the results can be from the kind of incremental approach the President is using for the situation in Iraq. It does not produce any meaningful results on the firing line but, ultimately, only leads inevitably toward “mission creep” sucking us into a massive effort later on. Thus, this latest decision to send in more “trainers” is simply a diplomatic ploy to look “supportive” of the Baghdad government’s efforts to regain control of Iraqi territory seized by ISIS, without appearing to be returning there in force with boots-on-the-ground, for that purpose.

Unfortunately, this kind of mini-strategy, leaves the President and the powers that be of the Democratic party between a damned if they do and damned if they don’t political rock and a hard place for the upcoming 2016 elections, For their part the Republicans aren’t contributing much to the situation beyond clamoring for either massive intervention…or bombing ISIS back into the Stone Age (a somewhat illogical view since ISIS is in a theocratic version of it already).

The President is correct about one thing however. Unless Iraq’s immediate neighbors are prepared to join in militarily to assist it in overcoming ISIS’s military forces, it really isn’t America’s fight. Nevertheless, and as unappealing as the idea of having any of our combat forces return there for that purpose, we may have to do it, if for no other reason than to goad these into action.

But there is a strategic concept here that may offer a proper intervention and exit model by which an American-led erstwhile “coalition” might resolve the military aspects of the ISIS problem. It’s an “anvil and hammer” one. That is, that coalition would provide sufficient forces to create a 50Km wide interdiction zone straddling the Iraq/Syria border reaching from Jordan to Turkey, backed up with sufficient air and drone resources to cut off ISIS forces in Iraq from their main Syrian supporting bases. Meanwhile, Iraqi/Kurd forces would “hammer” at these until they were eliminated or had surrendered.

Concurrently, creating a safe-haven zone along the Syrian/Turkish border, from the Mediterranean to Aleppo, mainly with no-fly/no-fire cover for that zone, would protect the legitimate Syrian Resistance, giving it a chance to organize and establish itself as a viable potential alternative to the Assad regime. In the process, many refugees currently in Turkey and elsewhere would be motivated to return to that secure enclave in Syria to help with restoring some form of an open and civil society for their country. It would also further constrain the ISIS elements remaining there, leaving their areas of occupation as free-fire azones subject to constant attack until little or nothing remained of their capabilities. Had something of this sort been done over four years ago, neither ISIS nor the Assad regime would be around today.

Lastly, a multilateral declaration by all countries of the international community should be made that, any of their nationals who attempt to join ISIS will be stripped of their respective citizenships, and never allowed to return.

The question is: does the international community finally have the will to take such action?